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FEATURE


ALLERGIC REACTION


Ian Stangoe and Julian Collins, Operations Director and Technical Manager respectively from the ISS specialist food manufacturing team review how high-demand cleaning has become a critical part of food manufacturers’ hygiene requirements.


The legislation requiring notification of allergens in food came into force in December 2014. With this, food providers are required to list whether 14 specific food allergens* are present in food.


The legislation was passed following the increase in incidents of fatal reactions to allergens in food. Food allergens are proteins which, in certain people, trigger reactions ranging from skin irritation to fatal swelling of the airways. In 2014 for example, around 8% of children and 4% of adults in the UK reported some form of severe reaction to an allergen. In 2015, around 10 deaths in the UK were attributed to severe reactions such as full anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can develop rapidly and should always be treated as a medical emergency.


66 | Tomorrow’s Cleaning April 2016


A food manufacturer has various options to affect allergen control and its removal from products, and these can be divided roughly into two categories; in production (during the food process) and outside production (influences outside the food production site such as supply chain control, delivery, storage and transport). Expert cleaning protocols can have an impact on both categories in that the cleaning processes and procedures must be understood and adhered to by operatives responsible for carrying out such tasks.


The challenges in cleaning are based around the sheer range of allergens, their differing properties, the environment in which they’re stored, prepared and processed, and the allergens’ reaction to different cleaning methods.


ALLERGEN TYPES AND


ENVIRONMENT The different allergens are found in food manufacturing in different formats – from oils to grains and powders. Each of these states is used in different ways and will respond (or not) to particular types of cleaning. Dry goods and powders for example, were for a long time cleaned using compressed air methods which could unfortunately blow the particulates to another production line, thus increasing the possibility of cross-contamination.


To touch on some basic chemistry and physics; being proteins, allergens tend to bond well with stainless steel – the preferred surface in many food manufacturing plants. Some proteins also have a high affinity with water (hydrophobic), and are therefore insoluble in water. Other proteins are


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